Even if you are not ceremonially married, you may be considered married under common law in Texas. This means that by acting as if you are married in other aspects of your life, you may have to go through divorce and child custody proceedings as a married couple would.
To prove the existence of a common law marriage in Texas, there must either be a valid declaration of marriage signed by each party, or the parties must pass a three-part test:
- Both parties agree to be married.
- They live together in Texas as husband and wife.
- They hold themselves out to be married as husband and wife.
All three parts of the test must exist at the same time for a common law marriage to be valid in Texas. If each party agrees there is a common law marriage, you can proceed as if you are in a traditional, ceremonial marriage. But if one party disagrees, the court decides whether or not there is a common law marriage.
For the court to determine whether the couple meets the "Holding Out" part of the test, there are a number of factors to consider. If you have children together, file taxes together, sign financial contracts together or introduce yourselves as a married couple to anyone else, it could be determined you are married under common law.
How To Divorce In A Common Law Marriage
The divorce process under common law marriage is the same as the process for a ceremonial marriage, but you must first show that you are common law married. This can be a simple process if both parties are in agreement, but should the case be taken to trial, it would become more complicated.
If it is determined that you do not have a common law marriage, child custody is decided much like it would be for other parents who never married. Other aspects of your separation, like property division, could be a more complicated process.
For experienced, knowledgeable representation regarding your common law marriage, you need a lawyer who is familiar with Texas family law. Our firm has served the Dallas area for over 40 years, and attorney Jerry W. Melton is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in family law. We have the resources to answer all your common law marriage and divorce questions, and the qualifications to present a strong case.
To determine whether you have a common law marriage, and if it has any impact on your case, schedule a free consultation with a family law attorney. Fill out our form online, or call 972-980-8000 today.